Fringe & Lace by Brittany

Brittany Low - November 2019 Entrepreneur of the Month

Fringe and Lace by Brittany is bringing boutique retail back to Northwood, Iowa. Brittany Low has always loved to sew. In high school, Brittany used her talent while working in a bridal shop, making alterations. When Brittany married Tom Low, a life-long resident of Northwood, she began a side business doing alterations for friends and family out of her home. As her friends and family increasingly referred their friends, Brittany realized that she could take this side business to full time. “I was so busy just from word-of-mouth and personal recommendations,” Brittany said. “Digital marketing has worked well for our demographic, but referrals and word-of-mouth are the best kind of marketing a business can have.”

As Brittany considered taking her alterations full time, she also noticed something going on in her community: every spring, local girls were preparing for prom by re-selling and buying their formal dresses on social media. After hearing about girls meeting up at gas stations and trying on dresses in bathrooms, Brittany saw that these girls needed a safe and clean location to sell their previously-loved dresses. In early 2017, Brittany founded Fringe Lace by Brittany, an alterations and consignment dress shop, specializing in prom dresses and tuxedos.

After a year, Brittany decided it was time to explore expanding her business model. She always knew she wanted to add bridal but wanted to make sure she did it right. Brittany worked with the NIACC Pappajohn Center to find the best way for her business to grow. “The Pappajohn Center helped me put all the pieces together,” Brittany said. “Before I made any moves, we made sure it was a good decision to add the bridal line, add the bridesmaid dresses, and expand into a bigger location.” In February 2018, Fringe and Lace by Brittany opened in its new location on Central Avenue in downtown Northwood.

The new location has been a great fit for Fringe and Lace. “Bridal and formal attire is still a market where people want the experience,” Brittany explained. “They want to be able to touch, feel, and see before they buy. Bridal is a different kind of retail that can still maintain a strong brick-and-mortar presence, because online shopping doesn’t fit the customer’s needs.” It was important to Brittany to found her business in Northwood. Brick-and-mortar clothing retail is increasingly concentrated in larger metro areas as online sales continue to drive change in industry. Brittany sees a personalized bridal boutique in Northwood as an opportunity to bring some retail back to town and keep it there. She said, “My mindset is that I don’t have to be the biggest but I want to be the best. Everything we do is focused to provide that small town service, the top trends, the best variety, and the best quality at a price point that’s realistic for our area.”

Brittany has a few words of advice for fellow entrepreneurs. “One of the most important things that has helped me get to where I am is the city of Northwood itself. If you’re starting a business, the first thing to do is go talk to your city leaders, your economic developers, your business resources. They want to help you – but they can’t help you unless you ask. The support of the Pappajohn Center has also been so valuable. It helped me realize that I don’t have to know everything, I just have to know my own strengths and find the right team to fill in the blanks.”

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